Top teams tangle

A pair of first place teams in their respective divisions tangle Wednesday night when the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers host the AL West-leading Texas Rangers in the middle game of a three-game set. Most offshore sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product opened the Rangers as slight $1.10 road favorites, with a total of nine runs.

The Tigers captured Tuesday’s opening rain-soaked contest 6-5 thanks to a mammoth eighth inning home run by Brennan Boesch. The blast came after the Rangers tied the contest at 5-5 in the top of the inning thanks to a solo homer by Nelson Cruz and a two-run shot by Mike Napoli.

It took Jose Valverde’s 29th save in 29 save situations to finally nail it down for the Tigers, but not before Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta committed errors with two outs in the ninth to extend the game.

Detroit will send newly acquired Doug Fister to the mound Wednesday to face Rangers southpaw Matt Harrison. Though Fister was a dismal 3-12 in 21 starts for Seattle before the Tigers traded for him, he does have a stellar 3.33 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. The ‘under’ was 13-6-2 in those 21 assignments.

Fister last pitched for Seattle last Tuesday and only received one run of support during a 4-1 setback to the New York Yankees as a huge $2.65 road underdog. The 6-foot-8 right-hander allowed three runs on seven hits through seven innings spanning 109 pitches. He walked one and fanned five.

Seattle gave Fister two runs of support or less in eight of his last 10 starts. That includes a 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers on June 15 as a $1.15 home underdog. Texas tagged Fister for four runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings. Fister walked two and fanned one during his 108-pitch effort.

Fister has pitched into the seventh inning in 10 of his last 12 starting assignments.

Texas will counter with Matt Harrison, who is 9-7 with a nifty 2.94 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Harrison is 3-0 in his last five starts, with the Rangers winning on all five occasions. In fact, Texas is 9-3 in Harrison’s last 12 starts, with the ‘under’ cashing in his last seven assignments.

Harrison is coming off last Sunday’s 4-1 victory against Minnesota as a $1.60 home favorite. He yielded one run on eight hits through 7 1/3 innings spanning 114 pitches. He walked one a struck out two.

Harrison has started against the Tigers once this season (June 7) and suffered an 8-1 loss as a $1.25 home favorite. The 25-year-old was touched for two runs on five hits through six innings spanning 89 pitches. He walked two and fanned five.

Detroit is now 5-2 in seven meetings against the Rangers this season, including a perfect 4-0 at Comerica Park. The ‘over/under’ is 3-3-1 in the seven matchups.

John Tumpane will be calling balls and strikes during Wednesday’s contest, which could be good news for the hometown Tigers. The home team is 9-3 in Tumpane’s 12 games behind the dish, with the ‘under’ going 7-4-1.

Wednesday’s weather forecast in Detroit calls for clear skies, calm winds and a game-time temperature in the upper 70s.

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